We've reduced the annual membership renewal cycle down from five months to three weeks”

Neil Mcdonald, CEO

Non-profit organization AMP Financial Planners Association Inc. (ampfpa) has been partnering with AMP and AMP Financial Planning since 1925, acting on financial planners' behalf to maximize their relationship with AMP and the benefits they receive.

As with many long established organisations, ampfpa was facing the need to change with the times. Specifically, it was battling being perceived as a union above a professional association delivering a wide range of benefits. "We wanted to become more like the AFL players association in our approach to engaging and retaining loyal members," says Neil Macdonald, CEO.

Starting with this simple notion ampfpa launched a transformation project that would take it into the cloud. The project has completely restructured its business model and supporting systems, confining payroll ledgers and other such manual processes to history at long last.

"We're more connected to each other than ever before," explains Macdonald. "Having access to information outside of our individual roles far better equips us to meet members' needs."

Salesforce.com replaced an outdated ACT! contact management system, at best 30 percent inaccurate. It also brought an abrupt end to the point-to-point sharing of 32 Excel spreadsheets in various iterations.

With many of ampfpa's needs addressed by Salesforce out of the box, a three-year technology upgrade roadmap took just under one year to complete!

The larger goal was to revolutionise the way ampfpa engaged with members, while continuing to protect their interests as it had always done.

"We started doing something very simple, but powerful – we started asking them what they wanted from us."

Ampfpa rolled out salesforce.com social enterprise tool Chatter to its financial planner community, so that it could converse with them daily in real time and share information with them as easily as in Facebook, but within a secure private forum.

"We constantly survey our members and our response rates are consistently high: between 40 to 50 percent. This is proof that we're connecting in the right way," says Macdonald.

Through a customer portal built on a salesforce.com platform ampfpa is releasing a steady stream of process improvements and standard documents, for the benefit of members. These include online renewal forms with a choice of payment options, including EFT, installment or deduction from the fees and commission account.

Members receive an automated email reminder when renewal is due. A once 10-page document is now a simple online form, prefilled with the member's unique ID and name. And, renewal dashboards in Salesforce let the association know who's opened each of 1,000 emails and what income is attached. Automating this process has reduced the task of renewals from five months to three weeks.

"This time last year we would have had 100 outstanding practices. Now we have no more than 20 and we know the reason for each," says Macdonald.

Having successfully turned around a once process heavy organization into one with unmatched agility, the next step was to bring the board on board.

The association has equipped board members with iPads, enforcing completely paper free meetings.

Chatter is proving a valuable forum for sending real-time performance updates up the chain to the board of directors.

According to Macdonald the cost savings from shaking off enterprise scale overheads by moving onto Salesforce is funding ampfpa's technology upgrade program, including state of the art-video conferencing, which the company hopes to develop into a 1,000-user meeting interface in the future.

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